Nov 122008
 
Authors: Tyler Okland

Urging the community to support its Climate Action Plan at the Aztlan Community Center Wednesday, the natural resource department of the city of Fort Collins said that, if implemented, its plan will lower carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2012.

The plan will take a proactive approach towards lowering carbon emissions in Fort Collins, said Lucinda Smith, coordinator of the event.

Smith said that she intends to reduce electricity use by one percent annually through energy efficiency and conservation programs. The use of electricity currently accounts for 1.3 million tons of carbon dioxide in Fort Collins, which is half of the total emissions in the city, she said.

The draft intends to educate the community, aided by its program Climate Wise, about carbon emissions and to increase awareness about how residents can help reduce its effects, such as by reducing “vehicle miles of travel” and walking or biking instead of driving.

If passed, the plan will also update building codes to standardize “green building,” bringing in appliances that produce less carbon waste and increasing recycling options throughout the city. It will give apartment complexes the option of offering recycling for its residents at a low cost.

According to Smith, the plan will increase economic production locally.

“This plan has strategies that support the local economy. It helps businesses improve their bottom line,” she said. “There are numerous benefits that can be realized when taking steps to reduce carbon emissions.

“And then we want to see an 80 percent decrease (in carbon emissions) by 2050,” she said.

Steve Saunders, president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, said sustainability practices are increasingly more pertinent in Colorado.

“We are particularly vulnerable to climate change here in Fort Collins. The western states have warmed more than the rest of the United States as a whole,” he said.

Saunders said he believes that no one, including the federal government, will come to pick up the slack if the Fort Collins community refuses to take the initiative in the battle for carbon neutrality.”There are things only a local government can do to help fight climate change,” he said. “Congress is not going to manage your building codes or car emissions.”

Saunders found the Climate Action Plan to be beneficial for the Fort Collins economy as well.

“When we meet our needs with home grown resources, we save money,” he said. “When we protect our climate, we protect our local economic base.”

As a byproduct of the Climate Action Plan, funds spent overseas would be slashed, which would result in more jobs available locally to staff the “green market.”

Saunders closed by inspiring the Fort Collins audience to harness their considerable tools in a collective effort to halt the increasing level of carbon emissions.

“You are, you have been, you continue to be a leader. You have resources in your city that have let you put together a plan that has won national awards and attention; you are a model city,” he said.

The plan will be reviewed by the City of Fort Collins on Dec. 2 and, if passed, will launch Jan. 1.

Staff writer Tyler Okland can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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